Roll up, roll up, for the Fenland Council mini ‘sale of the century’ 

Fenland Council Cabinet agreed to dispose of 15 lots of surplus assets

Fenland Council Cabinet agreed to dispose of 15 lots of surplus assets. The meeting was streamed live on YouTube on January 20. - Credit: Archant

Former garage sites, redundant sewage treatment works and an eclectic mix of small parcels of land are to sold off by Fenland District Council.  

Fifteen disposal sales have been selected from Wisbech, March, Chatteris, Whittlesey and the villages. 

Cabinet agreed it was vital for the council to become “much more commercial in its approach”. 

Cabinet agreed to allow officers to determine the best method of sale.  

Options for each will range from auction to being sold “by openly marketed private treaty or by special purchaser private treaty”. 

If auctioned, each will have a reserve price or the council may consider accepting an offer ahead of  being sold.  

" Officers are tasked with preparing such surplus sites for disposal and have previously opted to dispose of such sites by private treaty, said a report to Cabinet. 

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“Unfortunately, private treaty disposals often become protracted over many months, either by unknown site impediments, third party claims to rights of way or buyers seeking to renegotiate or withdraw from the sale.  

“Such unforeseen difficulties increase the amount of officer time required to resolve such matters and increase the amount of time from preparing the site for sale to receiving the capital receipt.” 

The report says: “Commercial property auction is considered the best option to optimise value at low cost and upon the fall of the hammer a purchaser is ‘locked in’. 

“Contracts for sale exchange when the hammer falls and a deposit is taken from the purchaser in the auction room (usually 10 per cent of purchase price).” 

Councillors were told the sites do not fit “existing or emerging policy criteria for retention and therefore are appropriate for disposal”. 

The report added that disposal by auction is often considered to be the ultimate test of ‘market value’, exposing the property to a live market, where purchasing is open and transparent.  

The report notes that as local resident interest “is likely to be piqued by the proposed disposal of surplus assets”, the council will erect ‘for sale’ boards. 

"This will afford neighbouring residents the opportunity to know what is happening and to bid or to make an offer for the land,” says the report. 

"The disposal of these 15 surplus sites will reduce, by a modest amount, the sums expended in keeping the sites tidy, safe and secure.” 


(The commentary under each is that presented by council officers to the Cabinet) 

Drybread Road, Whittlesey

A largely rectangular former garage site of approximately 0.787 acres The site is constrained by having two narrow accesses, but is in an established residential area, and therefore has potential for residential redevelopment. 

Land adjacent to 1 Eastwood, Chatteris  

A site of approximately 0.65 acres, adjacent to the access for Chatteris Leisure Centre and Cromwell Community School. It is currently in use for informal car parking along the north of the access road.  

The extent of any parking provision required is to be determined prior to progressing any planning permission or sale of land that may become surplus to parking need. 

Grounds Avenue, March  

This site extends to approximately 0.326 acres. It is a former garage site used by local residents for informal parking.  

The site is constrained by only having narrow access for vehicles. The surrounding area is in established residential use and accordingly the site has potential for residential redevelopment 

Riverside Gardens, Parson Drove  

A disused garage site of 0.076 acres located at the end of Riverside Gardens, a narrow no through road. The site is in Flood Zone 3 and would be a challenging site upon which to gain a consent for development 

Birch Fen, Chatteris  

A parcel of 0.7acre of agricultural land located just outside Chatteris, approximately 100 metres to the east of The Elms, and east of the by-pass. The site is accessible from Birch Fen Drove. This land is unlikely to have redevelopment potential. 

Mile Tree Lane, Wisbech  

4.95 acres of agricultural land to the north of Mile Tree Lane. This land is currently let for agricultural use. The site is in flood zone 3 and being in open countryside is unlikely to be suitable for residential development in the near future. 

Crown Avenue, Christchurch  

Site of a former sewage treatment works, and measuring approximately 0.115 acres. This site is located at the end of Crown Avenue, behind a house owned by Clarion Housing Association. The site abuts open fields on its west side and school playing fields to its south side. The site would appear to have potential for a modest single dwelling. 

Inhams Close, Murrow  

Site of approximately 0.14 acres which abuts a sewage treatment works on its western boundary and abuts 14 Inhams Close (owned by Clarion Housing Association) on its eastern boundary. The site includes the vehicular accessway to the sewage treatment works. It is considered suitable for development. 

Land between 32 and 32A Station Road, Manea  

A small, triangular shaped parcel of land of approximately 142 m2 on Station Road between house numbers 32 and 32A. Historical encroachments from both neighbouring properties. 

Land adjacent to The Sycamores, Huntingdon Road, Chatteris  

A small parcel of land next to the Old Bakery on Huntingdon Road which although is not held as Public Open Space land, is maintained by the Council as such, and forms a natural extension to the prominent open space gardens on the corner with West Park Street.  

The land is separated from the main part of the land by the driveway into The Sycamores. Interest has been expressed in this land for parking. 

Former Sewage Treatment Works, rear of 14 Curf Terrace, Doddington Road, Chatteris  

A former sewage treatment works site, decommissioned by Anglian Water some years ago. The site measures approximately 0.137 acres.  

The site lies to the rear of the houses fronting Doddington Road, with an area of unregistered land between the site and the public Highway. 

Hurst Avenue, March  

An awkwardly shaped, undeveloped grassed site of 0.147 acres located in an established residential area between existing bungalows, discussions with planners indicate that the site would be suitable in principle, for the development of a single residential dwelling.  

Note that the council will need to seek the variation of a covenant contained within the Housing Stock Transfer with Clarion Housing Group for this site in order to smooth the sale process 

Upwell Road (land to the north of No. 84), March  

A site with an area of 0.25 acres being irregular in shape positioned to the rear of 84 Upwell Road. It is laid out as a car parking areas vehicular access is via Smiths Drive (not Upwell Road) crossing Clarion owned land (rights to be determined).  

Potential development of this site is constrained by underground utilities. Note that the council will need to seek the variation of a covenant contained within the Housing Stock Transfer with Clarion Housing Group for this site in order to smooth the sale process 

Gibside Avenue, Chatteris  

A former garage site and future residential development site, of some 0.434 acres located in an established residential area.  

It is currently being used for ad hoc parking (unsurfaced), with several garages in existence, albeit their usage/occupation is undetermined.  

There are potential unauthorised rights to resolve prior to determining the most appropriate method of sale. 

The Birches, off Chapel Road, Wisbech St. Mary  

This is problematic site of 0.139 acres for development, access is relatively long and narrow leading to an overgrown former sewage treatment works site, with ditch beyond.  

There are weight restriction issues, as access involves crossing deep wells for which Anglian Water cannot give any guarantee as to suitability for vehicular use. The FDC registered title does not about the highway.  

Note that the council will need to seek the variation of a covenant contained within the Housing Stock Transfer with Clarion Housing Group for this site in order to smooth the sale process.